A Review of Jewcentricity by Adam Garfinkle — Part 1 of 4

Brenton Sanderson

Adam Garfinkle is the founding editor of The American Interest, a bimonthly magazine focused on politics, culture, and international affairs. He served as speechwriter for secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and has taught at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, and Tel Aviv University. Garfinkle’s 2009 book, Jewcentricity: Why the Jews are praised, blamed, and used to explain just about everything is touted as an examination of “the various roles Jews are imagined to play on the world stage that they do not, in fact, actually play.”[1] It was published by Wiley, an elite, academic publisher. It is an excellent example of how books with little or no intellectual or scholarly merit are published by elite publishers if they contain positive portrayals of Jews.

Garfinkle’s basic thesis is that the ideas people have about Jews — both pro-Jewish and anti-Jewish — tend to be wildly exaggerated and often stray outside the bounds of rational thought. Jewcentricity is the author’s attempt to offer a reasoned corrective to this phenomenon and to set the record straight.

Jewcentricity has a four part structure. Garfinkle identifies and analyses the positive and negative “Jewcentricity” he sees manifested among Jews and non-Jews, highlighting, along the way, the various exaggerations that supposedly distort the truth about Jews and their interactions with others. These various exaggerations are said to bounce off and reinforce each other, with the author claiming that the “four forms of Jewcentricity across our two-by-two matrix need and feed one another.”[2]  While Jewcentricity is offered as a dispassionate survey of the interactions between Jews and non-Jews, it is, not surprisingly (given that Garfinkle is himself Jewish), centrally preoccupied with the evils of “anti-Semitism.”

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For Garfinkle, “anti-Semitism” (or “negative gentile Jewcentricity” as he terms it) is not an easy term to define. “Not only is the subject fraught with emotion, but it is one that has been dissected and argued over by historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, philosophers, and armchair moralists for centuries. … The consensus among scholars is that anti-Semitism can be defined as ‘the irrational hatred of Jews.’” Garfinkle does admit that that such a definition presupposes the possibility of a “rational” hatred of Jews, noting that:

Jews can be pushy, clannish, arrogant, ostentatious and boastful to the point of producing irritation in others. That makes it possible to dislike Jews as individuals or as a group, even if disliking whole groups is not politically correct these days (or indicative of refined character in any days). It may be ignorant, mean-spirited, and small-minded, or it may just be a matter of taste. It may be all that and still not be irrational in the sense that psychiatrists use the term.[3]

Nowhere in his book does Garfinkle make the obvious and foundational point that “anti-Semitism” stems from conflicts of interests between Jews and non-Jews in a Darwinian world. The assertion by Jews of their ethnic interests (Semitism) inevitably leads to resentment and hostility from those whose interests are compromised as a result (so-called anti-Semitism). To admit this basic truth would be to admit that non-Jews (including Europeans) have interests that are legitimate and that the desire to resist those opposed to our interests is eminently rational. Yet, while admitting that disliking Jews may “not be irrational,” Garfinkle goes on to argue that “anti-Semitism is something different. It goes beyond mere dislike. It is a kind of disease of the mind.”[4]

This attribution of psychopathology to those critical of Jews has a long intellectual pedigree among Jewish intellectuals and activists. One is, for example, reminded of the collective Jewish response to Richard Wagner’s critique of Jewish influence on German art and culture in the mid-nineteenth century, where he was branded a “sexual psychopath” who had “chronic megalomania, paranoia, and moral derangement.” Garfinkle is quite willing to offer up the kind of spurious Freudian diagnoses of “anti-Semites” that were a Jewish stock in trade throughout the twentieth century. For example, he proposes that critics of Jews frequently “postulate Jewish conspiracies that are, in fact, mirror images of their own conspiratorial delusions.”[5]

Of particular concern to Jewish activists are individuals who, like Richard Wagner, are of high intellectual or social standing and also critical of Jews. Garfinkle notes that:

The anti-Jewish prejudices of creative individuals — T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, for example — are hurtful to Jews because intelligent people are supposed to know better. … The power of educated and well-regarded anti-Semites resides in their ability to elevate latent tendencies toward bigotry to the point of being society acceptable. Anti-Semitic leaders norm hatred; they are catalysts that join cultural bias to the impulse for scapegoating in troubled times.[6]

Garfinkle suffers from his own form of “Jewcentricity” (in truth Jewish hyper-ethnocentrism) in failing to note how the anti-White prejudices of leading Jewish intellectuals and producers of culture (e.g. the Frankfurt school intellectuals, Hollywood writers and directors) are hurtful to White people because intelligent people are supposed to know better. It seems that Jews (and their non-White and sexual minority proxies) have a monopoly on hurt feelings. He likewise fails to make the point that the power of educated and well-regarded Jewish intellectuals resides in their ability to norm hatred against Whites (negative Eurocentricity) and make latent tendencies toward anti-White hatred socially acceptable.

The “negative Jewcentricity” of non-Jews is especially galling, according to Garfinkle, because for eighteen hundred years Jews have been the helpless victims of non-Jewish (and particularly European and Christian) injustice, and never oppressors of others. Indeed the author approvingly quotes the “redoubtable Israel Zangwill” who claimed that the Jew is “the great misunderstood of history” and argues that:

Jews have been talented flotsam on the waves of history, usually managing not to sink and learning how to swim, but never controlling the currents or the weather. This is why the gentile purveyors of Jewcentricity are so annoying: they invert, utterly and completely, what has been most true about Jewish social and political life for the past eighteen hundred years — its helplessness. To construe a more or less successful response to a condition of helplessness as a plot to control the world is, well, crazy.[7]

Nowhere in his book does Garfinkle mention the many historical instances where Jews have dominated and ruthlessly exploited Europeans for their own benefit — often the cause of expulsions as a consequence. From Biblical times onwards Jews have invariably endeavored to dominate other peoples. In Europe in the Middle Ages Jews were seen as “pitiless creditors,” and the philosopher Immanuel Kant famously observed that Jews were “a nation of usurers … outwitting people amongst whom they find shelter. … They make the slogan ‘let the buyer beware’ their highest principle in dealing with us.”[8] But authors like Garfinkle, there is no need to delve into the reasons for particular historical instances where Jews have been hated.

So it is not surprising that the author of Jewcentricity is likewise silent on the vastly disproportionate and enthusiastic Jewish participation in the Bolshevik mass-murder of millions of eastern Europeans. To Garfinkle, “negative Jewcentricity” has nothing to do with Jewish behavior, but is the product of the irrationality of non-Jews who conjure wild anti-Semitic exaggerations and conspiracy theories out of their lurid imaginations.

Garfinkle characterizes any suggestion that hostility toward Jews stems from very real conflicts of interest as a manifestation of “postmodern anti-Semitism.” Surveying the supposedly long and lachrymose history of Europe’s persecution of Jews, he claims that, following on from the religious anti-Semitism of pre-Enlightenment Europe and the racially-based anti-Semitism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, we have reached the “postmodern” stage of anti-Semitism.

The third stage is the postmodern, explicitly political stage in which we live today. The irrational hatred of Jews as a group does not identify religion or race alone as the source of Jewish “crimes” but focuses instead on material and political power; the Jews are evil not because they rejected and killed Christ, or because they have inferior “blood,” but because they conspire to steal power from others and live parasitically on established, “normal” communities for purposes of their own aggrandizement. They pose as people like any other, but they are not, and Zionism is the singularly deceptive and evil garb by means of which Jews plot to execute their avaricious deeds.[9]

So when criticism of Jewish behavior focuses on Jewish “material and political power,” it necessarily strays outside the boundaries of rational discourse and becomes “anti-Semitic.” It is, therefore “anti-Semitic” to point out, for instance, that Jews have enormous financial and political power relative to their numbers — an obviously factual statement. Such an “argument” presupposes that Jews in the United States and throughout the West have not obtained formidable financial and political power, and have not used this power to further Jewish interests. It also presupposes that Jews have never and do not today “pose as people like any other” in order to conceal their Jewish origins and loyalties.

These assertions are patently false, and are openly contradicted by Garfinkle himself in other parts of Jewcentricity. For example, in discussing the financial resources and political power of America’s Jewish activist organizations, he points out that:

Over the last forty or so years, the clout of organized American Jewry has risen meteorically. Professional Jews have been able to tap into large sums of money, talented executives, and growing and dedicated staffs to influence a vast array of public policy issues. They have grown fast, AIPAC being an excellent example. In the early 1950s it was a three-person office operating on a shoestring budget; twenty-five years later it had a staff of around 150 and a multimillion-dollar budget. Not only have Jewish American organizations amassed clout on matters relating to Israel, but Jewish organizational muscle has been flexed in the face of the Soviet Union and Communist Romania, on immigration and asylum policy, on trade policy, and on human-rights issues involving Haiti, Rwanda, and, more recently Darfur. Jewish “professional” political clout, augmented by a larger-than-proportional number of Jewish senators and representatives, has also influenced many domestic issues.[10]     

By his own definition, this factual statement by Garfinkle would be regarded as “anti-Semitic” — touching as it does on how “the clout of organized American Jewry” has “risen meteorically” through tapping “into large sums of money” to influence “a vast array of public policy issues.” Garfinkle casually mentions that Jewish activist organizations have flexed their political muscle “on immigration and asylum policy” without mentioning the transformative demographic consequences of this influence — in particular from the passing of the 1965 immigration laws in the United States and successfully lobbying for immigration reform in other Western nations (e.g. the ending of the White Australia policy in Australia). Jews have been and continue to be the intellectual and financial backbone of the multicultural Left throughout the West. They have effectively hijacked the demographic destiny of whole nations in their own ethnic interests, and Europeans are in real danger of losing demographic control of three continents as a result.

Likewise, Garfinkle fails to mention that Jewish activist organizations in Europe, by successfully lobbying for open borders and mass non-White immigration, are, to a great extent, responsible for the ongoing Islamization of Western Europe and the high levels of welfare dependency and criminality (including the child rape gangs) of the low-IQ Muslim immigrants who have entered Europe as a result. Paradoxically, given that he repeatedly denies that Judaism has any firm racial or ethnic basis, Garfinkle freely admits that these Jewish activist organizations are wholly concerned with advocating for policies that serve Jewish ethnic interests.

The main mass-membership advocacy organizations of American Jewry — B’nai B’rith and its Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, the National Conference of Jewish Federations, and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (a kind of steering group for the major organizations), to mention only a few — are not religious organizations but ethnic ones. It is not necessary to have any Jewish religious affiliation to be a member in good standing in these organizations, and their leaderships are composed mainly of people who are not religious or Jewishly learned Jews.

We need not go into foundational texts and statements of purpose on the question of origins, for the answer is simple enough: organizations like B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Committee were created to lobby for particular Jewish interests — in the latter case, for example, against a trade agreement with Russia in 1905 because of Russian anti-Semitism. The American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee came into being to aid Jewish war refugees after World War I. The United Jewish Appeal came into existence in 1938 to help Jews trapped in Europe.

In time, these and most other Jewish organizations became explicitly or implicitly Zionist, and thereafter existed to one degree or another to support, first, a Jewish home in Palestine, and then, after 1948, the security and prosperity of the State of Israel. In other words, all these organizations have depended, and still depend, on the validity of their serving parochial Jewish ethnic interests that are simultaneously distinct from broader American interest but not related directly to religion. [Emphasis added][12]

Garfinkle should have added that these organizations serve parochial Jewish ethnic interests that are simultaneously distinct from and (particularly with regard to mass non-White immigration, multiculturalism, and American foreign policy in the Middle East) entirely contrary to the interests of the traditional White American majority, which implies that criticism of Jews by non-Jewish White Americans is entirely rational.

The above statement by Garfinkle is a tacit admission that Jewish activist organizations are contemporary manifestations of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy — they serve the interests of ethnic Jews regardless of religious affiliation or observance. Given the political power that has been exercised by these organizations in lobbying for policies contrary to the interests of White Americans, is it any wonder that politically-aware Whites (like those who regularly read TOO) are critical of organized Jewry.

Garfinkle makes the observation that “anti-Semitism” has been far less of a problem for Jews who have resided in nations and societies characterized by heightened individualism — with the United States being the conspicuous example:

Another factor affecting the nature of anti-Semitic manifestations is cultural in a deeper sense. Some societies value individualism more than communalism, some the other way around. In most Western societies, and in American society in particular, the ethos at large sees each individual as a free and autonomous agent, so conformist behavior is less frequent and extreme than in societies in which hierarchy and communal norms prevail. On the other hand, communally oriented societies tend to have stronger control mechanisms against antisocial behavior. The result is that individualistic societies tend to produce outlaws and one-off weirdos, while hierarchical or communal-oriented societies are better at producing mobs. Mobs are better suited for enabling anti-Semitic policies and attitudes. It is no accident that fascism set deeper roots in more communally oriented European societies — Germany, Italy, and Spain — than in the more individualistic ones like Britain, Holland and the Scandinavian countries.[13]      

Of course the defining feature of Jewish history has been that group interests, rather than individual interests, have been of primary importance. Judaism is the prime historical example of how the rejection of individualism (especially in the sociobiological niche of the Diaspora) leads to group evolutionary success (i.e., genetic continuity across millennia). Garfinkle’s observation is quite correct and in it resides the origins of the Frankfurt School’s promotion of radical individualism as the epitome of psychological health for Europeans (see here, p. 165). The sane and well-adjusted White person was characterized by these Jewish intellectual activists as an individual who had broken free from the traditional Western shaming code, and who realized their human potential without relying on membership in collectivist groups (or “mobs” as Garfinkle describes them). This promotion of radical individualism among non-Jews was, of course, intended to undermine the group cohesion of Europeans and thereby weaken their capacity to compete effectively with Jews.

The fact that heightened individualism within a society is advantageous for a small outgroup like the Jews also explains the disproportionate Jewish intellectual and political participation in libertarian movements. Jews have, of course, played an even more prominent role as intellectuals and activists in socialist movements, which, while not promoting individualism, have sought to substitute European racial and ethnic collectivisms with a transracial class collectivism and humanitarianism which also serves Jewish interests. Garfinkle notes that Jewish prominence in the early days of socialist and communist movements was a response to “rising romantic nationalism” throughout Europe which was “often associated with racial-purity dogmas and heavily tinged with anti-Semitism.”[14] Thus early socialist movements were, in large part, a Jewish ethno-political response to rising European nationalisms and were centrally preoccupied in promoting the group evolutionary interests of Jews through suppressing “anti-Semitism.”

Garfinkle claims that much “negative Jewcentricity” is based on the incorrect assumption that Jews comprise a distinct race or ethnic group. Despite the existence of an extensive body of population genetic evidence to the contrary, he purports to reject the assumption that Jews comprise “a bloodline phenomenon.” He writes:

Jews are not a race, however, and not “just” a religion. As we have seen, Jews are a people formed around the core ideas of a religious civilization. But in light of the unusual transterritorial history of the Jews, it is not hard to see how others might be confused by a modern identity that has come to conflate religion and national identity, as in a kind of identity double helix, like few if any others. … “Religion” and “race” are modern categories: Judaism’s identity formula does not accord with taken-for-granted divisions between citizenship and ethnicity. … Jews are not a race, even though there is some genetic continuity among contemporary Jews, and Jews are not a religious group if by that phrase one means an entirely elective self-selected group of believers. Jews are a hybrid of the two, a people based on a religious civilization.[15]

This doublespeak is utterly refuted by population genetic studies that have clearly established that Jewish groups do comprise a distinct genetic cluster. The idea that Judaism is not a group evolutionary strategy (implicit in claims Judaism is solely or even primarily a religion) cannot be credibly sustained in the light of studies, such that by Atzmon et al. from 2010, which confirmed that Jews are a distinct genetic community. This study examined genetic markers spread across the entire genome, and showed that Jewish groups (Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi) share large swaths of DNA, indicating close relationships, and that while each Jewish group in the study (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi) had its own genetic signature, each was more closely related to the other Jewish groups than to their non-Jewish countrymen. Atzmon found that the Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in segments of 3 million DNA letters or longer were 10 times more likely to be identical among Jews than non-Jews, and that any two Ashkenazi Jewish participants in the study shared about as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins.

It certainly is not hard to find intelligent Jews who are willing to concede the obvious racial nature of traditional Judaism, such as the late Jewish Canadian historian Norman Cantor who noted that: “Racism is itself a central doctrine in traditional Judaism and Jewish cultural history. The Hebrew Bible is blatantly racist, with all the talk about the seed of Abraham, the chosen people, and Israel as a light to the other nations. Orthodox Jews in their morning prayers still thank God daily that he did not make Jews ‘like the other peoples of the earth.’ If this isn’t racism, what is?”[16]

Garfinkle rejects this assessment, and contends, contrary to a welter of population genetic studies (although, to be fair, several of these came out after the publication of Jewcentricity), that Jews are not a race. Indeed he is morally outraged at any attempt to “construe modern Jewish nationalism to be a form of racism” indignantly labelling it an anti-Semitic “canard.”

Obviously, not all anti-Israel criticism qualifies as anti-Semitism, any more than all dislike of Jews qualifies as anti-Semitism. But the Zionism-is-racism canard, as well as the delegitimation rhetoric based on the “religion” canard [i.e. noting the lack of archeological evidence to support the Biblical account of Jewish history], are examples of anti-Semitism because they are never raised against any other country or people. If Zionism as a national movement of the Jewish people is inherently racist, then German nationalism, Japanese nationalism, and a dozen other ethnic-based nationalisms are racist, too. Indeed, bloodlines have played a far more obvious role in defining citizenship in these and other cases than it has in Israel.

Until fairly recently, German citizenship laws were such that Turks living in Germany for generations could not become citizens, while Volga Germans cold acquire instant German citizenship upon request by proving that at least one German grandparent was of German blood. In Japan, Koreans who have been resident in the country for even five, six, or seven generations are not allowed to become citizens. Yet no one who focuses energy on delegitimizing Israel on racist grounds ever talks about Germany or Japan.[17]

Few on our side of politics quibble with Israel’s desire to establish a Jewish ethnostate and to safeguard this through a racially-restrictive immigration policy. This is only natural. What we desperately resent is that the same people who affirm Israel’s right to exist as a “Jewish state” also deny the moral legitimacy of Western nations following the same path through defining their national identities in racial or ethnic terms. Furthermore, it is an undeniable fact that Jews have been at the forefront of political efforts throughout the West to promote the de-Europeanization of Western nations through lobbying for mass non-White immigration and multiculturalism. Garfinkle also fails to mention that Jewish intellectual activism in the form of scientifically fraudulent Boasian notions of racial equality (doubtless in conjunction with actual Jewish lobbying) were among the key reasons why Germany abandoned its traditional blood-based citizenship laws.

The overarching proof that Judaism is not a blood phenomenon, according to Garfinkle, is right before the eyes of anyone who cares to look. “If Zionism and Israeli citizenship are based on a bloodline concept of nationalism, then it would follow that the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel today would form a fairly homogeneous population from a strict genetic perspective. The reverse is true, however; Israeli Jews make up one of the most genetically diverse populations on earth.”[18] Atzmon and the other geneticists who have conducted population genetic studies of Jews would beg to differ. Garfinkle, while acknowledging some genetic commonality among Jews, argues that because Judaism technically accepts converts, it has nothing to do with blood:

In their London Review of Books essay, Mearsheimer and Walt claim that Israeli citizenship rests “on the principal of blood kinship.” As we have seen, this misrepresentation is a staple of modern racialist anti-Semitism and all of the anti-Zionist covers for it, including the “Zionism is racism” canard of the United States General Assembly. And it is flatly false. To repeat: one cannot convert to become a German or a Japanese or a Kurd. Those nationalisms and many others are based on a principle of blood kinship. But anyone who has converted to Judaism according to Jewish law can claim citizenship under Israel’s “right of return,” and many have done so. It has nothing to do with blood.[19]

While Garfinkle’s argument has a surface validity, in practical terms it is false. He fails to mention that atheists of Jewish ancestry are fully entitled to Israeli citizenship. Moreover, while the Jewish acceptance of converts offers them a veneer of seeming group permeability, conversion is such a marginal phenomenon as to be irrelevant. Judaism has long made “conversion” to Judaism an onerous process involving very high barriers to entry (to borrow from the lexicon of economics). To give an example of just how marginal, and therefore irrelevant, the phenomenon of conversion to Judaism actually is, take the case of the United States. According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, Jews comprise 2.2 percent of the American population. Of this 2.2 percent only two percent are converts. In other words, non-Jewish converts to Judaism comprise just 0.0004 percent of the U.S. population. The percentage of this tiny population that is female and of child-bearing age is smaller still, and none have achieved leadership positions in the Jewish community. The percentage of females of child-bearing age that actually have “Jewish” children is even smaller, and the percentage of these converts whose offspring are accepted as authentic Jews in the broader Jewish community is smaller still. These figures for the United States would likely be replicated throughout the Western world.

The bottom line is that theoretical possibility of conversion to Judaism (while being of great and longstanding propaganda value to Jews) is such a marginal phenomenon as to be irrelevant. This truth of this assertion is reflected in the findings of the numerous population genetic studies which amply confirm that Judaism is indeed a bloodline phenomenon and does constitute a group evolutionary strategy. Of course, Judaism could still be a group evolutionary strategy even if Jews were not a genetically distinct group, providing that Jews believed that they were, and behaved accordingly — which is exactly what they did believe and behave like for centuries before modern population genetic studies confirmed what they had always assumed.

Go to Part 2.

[1] Adam Garfinkle, Jewcentricity: why the Jews are praised, blamed, and used to explain just about everything (Hoboken NJ: John Wiley, 2009), 1.

[2] Ibid. 219.

[3] Ibid. 53.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid. 209.

[6] Ibid. 57-58.

[7] Ibid. 112.

[8] Paul Lawrence Rose, Wagner, Race & Revolution (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 1992), 7.

[9] Garfinkle, Jewcentricity, 6.

[10] Ibid. 179-180.

[11] Ibid. 156.

[12] Ibid. 167-68.

[13] Ibid. 56.

[14] Ibid. 62.

[15] Ibid. 64 & 67.

[16] Norman Cantor, The Sacred Chain: The History of the Jews (New York, HarperCollins, 1994), 336.

[17] Garfinkle, Jewcentricity, 65.

[18] Ibid. 67.

[19] Ibid. 211.

End of Part 1.
Go to Part 2.

Part 3

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